Navigation path

Left navigation

Additional tools

Other available languages: FR DE DA EL

European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 24 August 2012

Aarhus to be European Capital of Culture in Denmark in 2017

The independent selection panel assessing the cities applying to future European Capitals of Culture has recommended Aarhus for the title in 2017. Aarhus beat off the challenge of Sønderborg to represent Denmark. Cyprus is the other Member State in which a city will host the title in five years' time. The two winning cities will be formally nominated by the EU's Council of Ministers in May 2013.

Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, stated: "I congratulate Aarhus on its successful bid. I am sure the city and its citizens will participate with enthusiasm in the preparations for the year. The European Capital of Culture has an important role to play in promoting the diversity of Europe's cultures. The initiative is also a catalyst for the transformation of cities, bringing substantial economic and social benefits to its citizens."


In Cyprus, Nicosia and Paphos are still in competition (IP/11/1591). The selection panel is expected to make its recommendation in mid-September.

Bidding cities are assessed on the basis of criteria laid down by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers. These criteria state that the cities should prepare a cultural programme with a strong European dimension and foster the participation of citizens living in the city, in its surroundings and abroad.

The European dimension is reflected in the chosen themes and the way in which the events in the programme are organised. Cooperation between cultural operators in different EU countries is encouraged. The programme must also have a lasting impact and contribute to the long-term cultural and social development of the city.

The independent selection panel which makes the recommendation consists of 13 members, seven appointed by the European institutions and six by the Member State concerned (see list of European members below).

The list of countries hosting the title until 2019 was laid down in a decision of the European Parliament and Council of Ministers in 2006. The Commission recently proposed countries to host European Capitals of Culture after 2019 (IP/12/815).

The process for selecting a European Capital of Culture begins with a pre-selection phase after which an initial shortlist of cities is drawn up. A final selection takes place nine months later. The two cities chosen (one per country) are then officially designated by the EU's Council of Ministers.

The members of the selection panel appointed by the European institutions are:

  • Appointed by the European Commission: Sir Jeremy Isaacs (United Kingdom) a television executive and a former Director of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Manfred Gaulhofer (Austria), Director-General of Graz 2003, who has managed many European projects.

  • Appointed by the Council: Erna Hennicot-Schoepges (Luxembourg), former Member of the European Parliament, of the Council of Europe Assembly and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), currently heads various national and international cultural organisations; Constantin Chiriac (Romania), Vice President of Sibiu 2007 and currently director of national theatre Radu Stanca.

  • Appointed by the European Parliament: Jordi Pardo (Spain), responsible for cultural projects in the field of international culture; Steve Green (United Kingdom), researcher in cultural policy.

  • Appointed by the Committee of the Regions: Elisabeth Vitouch (Austria), represents the Commission for Culture and Education of the Committee of the Regions and is a member of the Vienna City government.

Following Guimarães (Portugal) and Maribor (Slovenia) this year, Marseille (France) and Košice (Slovakia) will be European Capitals of Culture in 2013; Umeå (Sweden) and Riga (Latvia) in 2014, Mons (Belgium) and Plzen (Czech Republic) in 2015 and Wroclaw (Poland) and Donastia-San Sebastián (Spain) in 2016.

For more information

European Commission: European Capitals of Culture website

Androulla Vassiliou's website

Follow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU

Contacts :

Dennis Abbott (+32 2 295 92 58); Twitter: @DennisAbbott

Dina Avraam (+32 2 295 96 67)

Side Bar